(Eileen R. Tabios)
Female. Education: Barnard College,Columbia University, graduated 1982.
Home—256 North Fork Crystal Springs Rd., St. Helena, CA 94574.
Writer. Has worked as a banker, journalist, stock market analyst, and economist; Asian Pacific American Journal, editor; founder of Meritage Press.
Philippines National Book Award for Beyond Life Sentences; Josephine Miles Literary Award, PEN, 2000, for The Anchored Angel: Selected Writings of José Garcia Villa.
After the Egyptians Determined the Shape of the World As a Circle, Pometaphysics Publishing (Lutherville, MD), 1996.
Black Lightning: Poetry in Progress, Asian American Writers' Workshop (New York, NY), 1998.
(Editor) The Anchored Angel: Selected Writings of José Garcia Villa, foreword by Jessica Hagedorn, Kaya (New York, NY), 1999.
(Editor, with Nick Carbó) Babaylan: An Anthology of Filipina and Filipina American Writers, Aunt Lute Books (San Francisco, CA), 2000.
Ecstatic Mutations: Experiments in the Poetry Laboratory, Giraffe Books (Quezon City, Philippines), 2000.
My Romance, Giraffe Books (Quezon City, Philippines), 2001.
Reproductions of the Empty Flagpole (poems), Marsh Hawk Press (New York, NY), 2002.
(Editor, with M. Evelina Galang) Screaming Monkeys: Critiques of Asian American Images, Coffee House Press (Minneapolis, MN), 2003.
Behind the Blue Canvas (stories), Giraffe Books (Quezon City, Philippines), 2004.
Ménage a Trois with the 21st Century, xPress(ed) (Espoo, Finland), 2004.
I Take Thee, English, for My Beloved, Marsh Hawk Press (New York, NY), 2005.
Post Bling Bling, Moria (Chicago, IL), 2005.
The Secret Lives of Punctuations, Volume 1, xPress (ed) (Espoo, Finland), 2006.
The Light That Left His Body Entered Thine Eyes,Marsh Hawk Press (New York, NY), 2007.
Contributor to literary journals; has released her poetry on CD.
Eileen Tabios left the business world ofWall Street in the mid 1990s to pursue full-time her passion for writing and poetry. In her own writing and as editor of books that showcase other writers and poets, Tabios often documents the history and culture of the Philippines and its literary traditions.
With Black Lightning: Poetry in Progress, Tabios collects the work of fourteen Asian American poets and takes the reader through the various drafts of their poems, providing explanations as to how the final poem came to be. Tabios also includes interviews with the poets that reveal their processes and inspirations.
The Anchored Angel: Selected Writings of José Garcia Villa reintroduces the English-language work of a writer largely unknown outside of the Philippines and whose work has fallen into obscurity. Villa (1908-1997) immigrated to New York in 1929 and returned to the Philippines only occasionally. After the publication of his 1933 story collection, he turned to writing only poetry, inspired as he was by E.E. Cummings. After the foreword by Jessica Hagedorn, the volume is divided into sections of poems, essays, and short stories, with the final section containing essays about Villa by Filipino and American writers who knew him.
Lori Tsang wrote in the Amerasia Journal that "as a writer, teacher, critic, and as an eccentric, arrogant, inventive, and passionate person(ality), Villa has had an important influence on Filipino, Filipino American, and American literature. Villa, whose work resisted confinement within white modernist canons or cultural nationalist ghettos, is hailed as a writer whose use of English made it (English) a part of the Phillippines." Tsang noted that the emphasis of this book is on Villa's poems, "which are lusciously lyrical in their use of assonance, reversed consonance, and internal rhyme, resulting in an intensely abstract sensuality reinforced by his masterful use of imagery." A Publishers Weekly contributor said that the book, "expertly edited by Tabios, is a study in how a relatively small contribution to two nations' literatures can challenge the terms of current debates about the West's imposition of values on non-Western peoples."
Babaylan: An Anthology of Filipina and Filipina American Writers was edited by Tabios and Nick Carbó. The title is taken from the Bisayan word for priestess poet, and the volume collects short fiction, poetry, and poetry in translation, in English as well as in other languages. Library Journal contributor Rene Perez-Lopez wrote that in it more than sixty women writers "evidence the rectitude of the Catholic Spanish past, Malay roots, and the steady … century-long revolutionary wind of American influence." The stories revolve around identity and women's exploitation and treatment. "The Ballad of Lola Amonita" is Elynia S. Mabanglo's poem about the comfort women of World War II who were used as sex slaves by the Japanese. Other contributions reflect spousal abuse and how women were forced to adjust their lives to suit the requirements and desires of males. Kathleen Flanagan noted in World Literature Today that "the imperialism of the United States and its continued influence spark many of the identity crises, and the works convey these crises as they are particular to women's lives. … The depictions of the expectations and stereotypes of women in both the Philippines and the United Statesare hauntingly powerful."
"Perhaps one way to assess the range and nature of this extraordinary collection of writing is to illuminate the conditions of its possibility," commented Jeffrey Arellano Cabusao in the Amerasia Journal. "These contemporary babaylans speak to us at a time of global capitalism's racialized and gendered recomposition, and the intensification of the national liberation struggle in the Philippines." Cabusao pointed to the poem "From the Other Side of the Sea" by Marra Lanot, in which Filipina workers in the garment industry "talk back to their First World sisters and pose the still-relevant question, ‘is sisterhood global?’ By juxtaposing the social location of its Filipina protagonist to those of other Asian women (cooks, garment cleaners and sellers) in U.S. urban spaces, Marianne Villanueva's short story ‘Silence’ explores domestic violence, and its twin internalized oppression in the form of silence, as part of the collective experience of women of color in the United States." "The authors display a dazzling range," wrote Jeff Wenger in theAsian Reporter, "from nipa huts to tenements to more bourgeoisie surroundings, from the ancient traditions to Generation-X edge. By shedding light on the Filipino condition, Babaylan, as great poetry must, enlightens the entirety of the human condition. Some of it is great just for its loving and masterful word play."
Reproductions of the Empty Flagpole is the first collection of Tabios's own poems, in which she begins with a selection of poems inspired by ancient Greek sculptures. In the long section titled "Returning the Borrowed Tongue," she focuses on themes that include cultural and linguistic domination. Barbara Jane Reyes wrote in Tamafyhr Mountain Poetry that Tabios "is a poet whose concern for beauty is evident in the long, lush brushstrokes of her prose form, the richness of her language, the depth and color of her imagery, and the complex sets of emotions these poems elicit."
Clayton A. Couch, in a review for Side Reality,described Reproductions of the Empty Flagpole as "a dense tropical forest of words, home to thousands upon thousands of linguistic species—some large and looming, others tiny and fragile—and blanketed by a moist emotional web of letters. … Tabios is, at heart, a sensualist, and her ability to incorporate significant sensory details into the paragraphs of her prose poems stuns us quite often with its powerful, panoramic range."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Amerasia Journal, winter, 2000, Lori Tsang, review ofThe Anchored Angel: Selected Writings of José Garcia Villa, pp. 215-218; summer, 2001, Jeffrey Arellano Cabusao, review of Babaylan: An Anthology of Filipina and Filipina American Writers,pp. 206-209.
Asian Reporter, October 3, 2000, Jeff Wenger, review of Babaylan, p. 11.
Booklist, December 1, 1999, Ray Olson, review ofThe Anchored Angel, p. 680.
Library Journal, July, 1998, Kitty Chen Dean, review of Black Lightning: Poetry in Progress, p. 92; August, 2000, Rene Perez-Lopez, review of Babaylan,p. 101
Publishers Weekly, February 7, 2000, review of The Anchored Angel, p. 71; December 9, 2002, review of Reproductions of the Empty Flagpole, p. 79
World Literature, summer-autumn, 2001, Kathleen Flanagan, review of Babaylan, p. 141.
Barnard Alumnae Affairs,http://www.barnard.columbia.edu/ (July 5, 2006), interview with Tabios.
Blind Chatelaine's Poker Poetics Web log,http://angelicpoker.blogspot.com(July 13, 2006).
Eileen Tabios Web log,http://chatelaine-poet.blogspot.com(June 19, 2006).
IMDiversity.com,http://www.imdiversity.com/ (January 10, 2004), Stewart David Ikeda, interview with Tabios.
Readme,http://home.jps.net/~nada/tabios.htm (January 10, 2004), Purvi Shah, interview with Tabios.
Side Reality,http://www.sidereality.com/ (January 10, 2004), Clayton A. Couch, review of Reproductions of the Empty Flagpole.
Tamfyhr Mountain Poetry, http://www.tmpoetry.com/ (January 10, 2004), Barbara Jane Reyes, review ofReproductions of the Empty Flagpole.
Xpressed.org,http://www.xpressed.org/ (June 19, 2006), author biography.
E-resume,http://chattydance.blogspot.com/ (July 13, 2006), electronic resume.